The James S. McDonnell Foundation does not pay indirect costs. Indirect cost recovery is the result of negotiations between the federal funding agencies and universities who carry out government-sponsored research. As described in a Rand report (URL provided below) The US Federal funding agencies have negotiated to cost share facilities and administration with Universities and private research institutes. Unlike other federal government contractors, Universities are not able to recover 100% of facility and administrative expenses because their mission of education, scholarly research, and public service overlaps to some extent with government sponsored research.
At the outset, the federal government provided research funds to universities on terms markedly different from those governing relations with industry. Whereas industrial firms were eligible for reimbursement of full audited costs, universities were permitted to recover only a fraction of their indirect costs. The theory was that since research was a regular function of universities, some of the university's own budget should go to the support of the research performed by its faculty, whatever the source of that support. The earliest NIH reimbursement rate for indirect costs was 8 percent. As federal subvention increased, however, the universities argued that they were in effect subsidizing government in ever larger degrees. In response, the regulations were changed to permit reimbursement of 20 percent of indirect costs and finally, in 1965, by act of Congress, the policy was changed to provide for a negotiated reimbursement of costs, but not full reimbursement. The principle adopted was that of "cost-sharing," a notion growing out of the original assumption that some of the charge for university research ought to be borne by the university.
The James S. McDonnell Foundation is not a federal funding agency supporting “sponsored research”. Rather, JSMF grants assist Universities in successfully fulfilling their three-part mission (education, scholarly research, and public service) by supporting research that is an integral component of the activities of Universities. As such, JSMF is philanthropically alleviating a portion of the costs that would usually be borne totally by the University.
JSMF supports STEM policy recommendations that the stipends for graduate students and postdoctoral trainees be provided, when possible, by institutional training grants or individual fellowships. In the view of JSMF, student tuition is an educational cost NOT a research cost and is an inappropriate budget item for a research grant. Budgets requesting stipend or salary support for trainees actively engaged in the research described in the application for JSMF research grants must provide an explanation for such requests in the budget justification component of the application. During review, the training track record of faculty involved in applications requesting trainee support will be used as an explicit criteria in evaluating the proposal
The James S. McDonnell Foundation makes grants to qualified 501(c)(3) tax-exempt or foreign equivalent organizations--not individuals--in response to Request for Proposals for established JSMF programmatic areas. Unsolicited requests that do not fit into a program area and are not research related are not funded.
Domestic and foreign institutions that have a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status or institutions that are instruments of the government are required to provide this documentation only when a proposal is selected for funding.
A forum for discussing issues concerning the academic research community
Clothing the Emperor, a forum for issues concerning the academic research community, looks at the topic: "Increasing the Representation of Women in Science: Should We Be Careful About What We Wish For?"